Humans spend approximately one-third of their lives sleeping, unfortunately it’s a lot less than that for insomniacs!
Stats show it’s a real issue across the US. Learn more by reading our list of the most eye-opening insomnia facts:
The Definition of Insomnia
1. Insomnia: the condition of being unable to sleep, over a period of time.
So what is insomnia?
Insomnia is a condition that involves being unable to sleep and comes in different forms, including primary and secondary insomnia.
- Primary is when your inability to sleep is not linked to any other condition, with secondary insomnia being when your sleeplessness is caused by another condition, for example depression or cancer.
- Then there’s chronic and acute insomnia, with acute insomnia lasting from one night to a couple of weeks and chronic insomnia being when someone suffers at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
Whichever form an insomniac suffers from, it can have a seriously detrimental effect on their life, and as a condition it’s much more common than you might think.
General Insomnia Facts
Most people have suffered from sleeplessness in their lives, perhaps during illness or times of stress, however insomnia is an intense form of sleeplessness that can continue for weeks and even months, and it’s incredibly common in America.
2. As many as 95% of Americans report an episode of insomnia at some point in their lives.
4. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, much more common than night terrors or sleep walking.
- Insomnia is a serious condition that can have a significant impact not just on the economy but also on the safety of our roads.
5. In the USA, an estimated $63 billion is lost in work performance due to insomnia each year.
History of Insomnia
You may think insomnia is a relatively recent occurrence, however when you look at stories from history you can see that this is a condition that people have suffered from for many years.
However insomnia didn’t get an official title until much later, when it became recognized as a real condition.
1. The term “insomnia” first appeared in the dictionary in 1623 and was given the meaning “want of sleep”.
Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Insomnia
- There are a number of known causes of insomnia and many different symptoms that have been identified, but unfortunately there are still not enough effective treatment options available.
Aside from conditions that are found to cause insomnia such as arthritis and Parkinson’s disease, there are a number of other factors which have been found to make insomnia worse.
3. Heavy chronic smoking increases the likelihood of insomnia in older adults.
5. People who work night shifts are at higher risk of suffering from insomnia.
“Only stress causes insomnia.”
Stress is one factor that can cause insomnia but there are also many others such as genetics, smoking, alcohol and hormones.
Insomnia can impact the body and mind in many different ways and has so many symptoms, some of which might be unexpected.
6. Those who suffer from insomnia are more likely to suffer from hallucinations.
8. Individuals with acute insomnia exhibit more stress, poorer mood and worse sleep continuity.
- Insomnia really can have a huge impact on your mood, with studies showing that people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.
A lot of research is being done in to how to effectively treat insomnia, with talking therapies currently being one of the most recommended options.
11. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an effective treatment for insomnia.
In fact, there are a number of key poses that are more sleep-inducing than others!
13. Roughly 4% of Americans aged over 20 use prescription sleeping pills each month.
- In a two and a half year study, published in the BMJ Open journal, researchers found that there was an increased risk of death in those that took sleeping pills.
- The authors estimated that sleeping pills were associated with 320,000 to 507,000 extra deaths in the US during 2010.
Who is Affected by Insomnia?
There are a number of different groups of people who are more prone to insomnia, including those who suffer from mental health problems.
- The reason women are thought to suffer from insomnia more than men are mood changes, hormones and the responsibilities brought on by children and family.
- Insomnia is a particular problem for women while pregnant and also during the menopausal years.
Fun Facts about Insomnia
Of course there’s nothing fun about insomnia, but there are a number of interesting assumptions that have been made about insomnia over the years.
1. Historically those suffering from insomnia were perceived as morally suspect. The Devil himself was seen as an insomniac.
3. In Shakespeare’s plays, insomnia is often a condition that befalls an unsettled mind.
4. Animals can be insomniacs too. Washington University School of Medicine bred insomniac flies and found their behaviors resembled people with insomnia in many ways.
- Researchers from Oxford University carried out a study to see whether the age-old advice of counting sheep really helped you fall asleep.
- According to their research it didn’t help, in fact imagining yourself on the beach worked much better.
Still struggling to sleep? Why not take a look at our list of 23 things to help you sleep better tonight!
- Ratini, M. (2020). Insomnia [Online]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/insomnia-symptoms-and-causes [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩
- BMJ Publishing Group Ltd (2016). Chronic insomnia: diagnosis and non-pharmacological management [Online]. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i5819 [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩
- Grade Saver (2021). The Epic of Gilgamesh [Online]. Available from: https://www.gradesaver.com/the-epic-of-gilgamesh/study-guide/summary-tablet-xi [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩
- Harvard Medical School (2008). Sleep and Mood [Online]. Available from: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩
- Hammerschlag, A. et al. (2017). Genome-wide association analysis of insomnia complaints identifies risk genes and genetic overlap with psychiatric and metabolic traits [Online]. Nature Genetics. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3888 [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩
- National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (2020). Fatal familial insomnia [Online]. Available from: https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6429/fatal-familial-insomnia [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩
- Conroy, D. (2016). 3 Reasons Women Are More Likely to Have Insomnia [Online]. Michigan Medicine. Available from: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/3-reasons-women-are-more-likely-to-have-insomnia [Accessed 26 March 2021]. ↩